We are an EV chargepoint installation company, so we decided it was high time for us to put our money where our mouth is!
Our company car has switched from a diesel Renault Clio to a fully-electric BMW i4 M50.
We are going to be following the ease of charging, costs associated with running the car, and how it compares to its diesel predecessor.
Making the switch to an electric company car
I have been driving the brand-new BMW i4 M50 for just over a month now.
It is not the first BMW I have driven, but it is the first electric car that both myself and Charge and Recharge has had in its fleet.
Having owned BMWs in the past, the interior of the i4 was familiar. The car is wonderfully comfortable and very easy to drive.
Why did we switch? It's about time that all companies started introducing non-ICE vehicles into their fleet, and we install chargepoints for these companies... perhaps it's to avoid being hypocritical!
Driving modes: do they impact your mileage?
For the majority of my driving time I have the car in B Mode.
This is essentially a regeneration mode whereby any breaking is done automatically, and the power is regenerated into miles. I think this is the most economical mode to drive in and once the strangeness of not using the brake wears off, it's very easy to drive.
Of course, I may have indulged in some strictly professional “testing” of the i4’s sport mode on some quiet country lanes. It’s only fair!
While this does deplete the battery faster than all other modes, this is to be expected. It is also to be expected that this is the most fun mode.
For optimal mileage on daily commutes and work ventures, opting for a non-sporting mode is preferable.
On colder days, BMW recommend the car be pre-optimised for driving in advance or via the app. This warms the car and prepares the battery for use. This is a great feature for personal comfort, but it does drain the battery by around 2%, so take this into account if you have longer journeys planned.
Charging on a domestic plug socket vs. at a charge point
Since having the car, I tend to charge mostly at my home address and up until recently I was using the 3-pin plug that was supplied with the car to charge the vehicle. This is quite possibly the slowest way to charge an electric vehicle! However, my options were limited until one of our expert engineers installed a Pod Point charger at my home.
With the UK facing soaring energy prices, charging from a domestic plug is not feasible. In fact, it is the most costly way to charge an electric vehicle such as the BMW as it needs to be constantly charging overnight to obtain a useable battery percentage.
I have been on the lookout for public chargers in my hometown and have found three Pod Point charges and one large DC charger. The DC charger is always in use whenever I have passed by – not exactly the efficient public charging network that the UK needs for it’s transition to EVs.
The Pod Point chargers, in fairness, are readily available. However, they have been installed on the outskirts of the town meaning it is inconvenient for me to take a long walk into town after parking and charging here.
Side note: with the car park being quite small, non-electric vehicles tend to park in the space anyway, which is an ongoing issue across the country.
With my new at-home charger, I’m happy to report that it now takes around 5-6 hours for a full battery (as opposed to 12+ hours!).
Is range anxiety a real thing?
I was fully aware before having the car that I may experience the dreaded range anxiety.
However, this has not caused me the anxiety I thought it would as the car, especially in regeneration mode, is very economical.
Do I tend to plan my journeys more now than I did in my diesel car? Yes.
Do I take more time to ensure I have adequate mileage to complete my journeys? Yes.
Do I map out journeys to incorporate charging stations just in case I need them? Yes.
Is this mainly down to new-car-nerves while I adjust to the needs of my EV? Yes!
I know that once I get used to my battery and mileage requirements, I will have a better understanding of what the BMW can do on a single charge.
The battery percentage is something I am more concerned about, since miles can be regenerated but the battery is not so easy to regenerate.
BMW recommend avoiding top-up charges.
Instead, you should allow the battery to drain to around 10% before charging. This definitely adds to the range anxiety as I usually filled the diesel company car up once it reached ½ of a tank. I’m afraid I haven’t managed to get down to 10% yet. (Sorry, BMW!)
Anyone who is like me feels a little twitchy when your ICE car needs to be filled up, and this doesn’t dissipate when you switch to an EV!
Charging at Silverstone
I was lucky enough to charge the car for free at Silverstone on their rapid DC charger which took all of 37 minutes to achieve an 80% battery.
This was phenomenal to achieve in such a short space of time. I would definitely recommend searching for DC chargers if you are in a hurry. These can come at quite a cost I imagine, but it is worth spending the money if you are in a hurry to charge and continue your journey.
On the whole, I am enjoying the electric vehicle experience and I look forward to understanding more about the cars capabilities in the future.
Stay tuned for more updates in the future.